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MP calls for law change over killers who never reveal where victims' bodies lie

Published 11/10/2016

Murder victim Helen McCourt
Murder victim Helen McCourt

Killers should be denied parole if they refuse to reveal where their victims' bodies are to stop their families being "dropped into hell", MPs will hear today.

In the House of Commons, Labour's Conor McGinn will urge MPs to change the law to deny killers who withhold that information the chance of freedom.

His Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill will be brought forward under a Ten Minute Rule motion, meaning it is unlikely to proceed without Government support.

But it comes after the campaign for a "Helen's Law" reached more than 343,000 signatures on change.org.

It is named after murder victim Helen McCourt, who was abducted and killed by Ian Simms in 1988 near Billinge, near Wigan.

Simms, a former pub landlord, was convicted by overwhelming DNA evidence of the murder.

But he never admitted what he did or disclosed the whereabouts of the 22 year-old's remains. His victim's mother, Marie McCourt, has since campaigned for a change in parole terms.

Simms' application for release from prison has been turned down but the Parole Board in February recommended that he be transferred to an open prison.

Ahead of the Commons debate, Ms McCourt said : "It's been 28 years since I lost my daughter but the pain will never ease until I can give her the dignity of a funeral.

"Many of those who have signed my petition have told me they are shocked that this law doesn't already exist.

"To take a life is bad enough. But to then hide the body and refuse to disclose where it can be found is an act of pure evil. They are literally picking up the family of the victim and dropping them into hell.

"With no funeral or grave they will never have closure.

"We are not asking for killers to be locked up forever. All we are asking is that they co-operate with the police and reveal where their victims have been hidden.

"If killers know they will never be released until they do this, surely they be more likely to co-operate and end this torment."

The 73-year-old will be joined in the Commons public gallery by at least five other affected families, including 48 year-old Sam Gillingham of Northamptonshire, whose search for the body of her murdered mother, Carole Packman, was the subject of a recent ITV documentary.

Also present will be the families of victims Jane Harrison, Jonathan Dolton, Michelle Gunshon and Paul Morson.

Mr McGinn said: "This proposed law has been already been introduced in some parts of Australia and there is no reason why it could not operate successfully here.

"Helen's Law has huge public support.

"More than 340,000 people have already signed a petition backing Helen's Law and the number is growing by the day.

"No one should be forced to endure the anguish that Marie McCourt and her family and the relatives of other victims have suffered.

"They have already felt the pain of having a loved one murdered.

"To add to their grief, they have been denied the chance to hold a proper funeral.

"Helen's Law will hopefully go some way towards helping put right the terrible wrong that has been inflicted on them."

Press Association

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